8 Tips for Helping Your Dog Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

8 Tips for Helping Your Dog Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

As the clocks spring forward for Daylight Saving Time (DST), we may grumble about losing an hour of sleep. However, we can at least take comfort in knowing what’s going on. Our canine companions, on the other hand, will just wake up confused as to why their routines aren’t happening the way they’re used to.

Dogs rely heavily on routine and natural cues to make sense of the world, and a neighborhood that’s awake an hour early might just be one of the most confounding things they’ll ever experience for the first time. In this article, we at PrideBites will take a quick dive into the impact of DST on dogs and learn how you can help your furry friend adjust.

Why Are Dogs Affected by Daylight Saving Time?

As smart as your dog is, they can’t tell the time in the same way we do. Rather, like many animals, your dog relies on their internal circadian rhythms to regulate essential bodily functions and behaviors. These rhythms are influenced by external cues such as light and darkness, which help synchronize their biological clocks with the natural day-night cycle. 

Quite importantly, these rhythms are also influenced by regular events. Feeding time is really important for your dog and, if you bring out their dog stainless steel bowls at the same time each day, their biological clock will quickly tell them to expect a meal at that time, sometimes to the minute. When DST alters the timing of daylight hours for humans, it means that humans will start doing things at different times from what your dog expects, confusing them and creating adjustment challenges.

Say you live in a suburb or the city. The transition to DST in the spring means that the hubbub and noise in your neighborhood will start ramping up an hour early, relative to their body clock. You’ll probably also be feeling somewhat miserable from the change yourself, further confusing your furry friend.

The Effects of Daylight Saving Time on Dogs

Increased Anxiety 

Dogs thrive on consistency, and changes to their daily schedule can stress some of them out. If your dog is particularly skittish, the stress from DST can trigger anxiety, manifesting as restlessness, pacing, whining, or destructive behavior. 

Altered Bathroom Habits

With their internal clocks set to a different time to yours, your dog’s timing for potty breaks may change slightly, leading to accidents indoors or discomfort from holding it in.

Appetite Changes

Your dog may show reluctance to eat at their usual times due to an apparent change in the events associated with feeding time. This could lead to erratic feeding patterns or decreased appetites.

Sleep Disturbances 

Like you, your dog may experience disruptions in their sleep patterns from adjusting to DST, leading to restlessness, difficulty settling down, or increased nighttime activity.

8 Tips for Helping Dogs Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

1) Transition Their Schedules Gradually

Start adjusting your dog's routine a few days before DST begins or ends, gradually shifting activities by 10 minutes each day. Pay attention to key activities like mealtimes, walks, and play sessions.

2) Maintain Consistency

Even if you don’t do DST where you live, it’s important to maintain a consistent schedule to provide stability and reduce anxiety for your dog. Once you have a consistent schedule, you can then adjust it by 10-minute increments as described above.

3) Provide Comfort to Your Dog

You will only really have control over the activities in your own home, so outside events can still disrupt your dog’s biological rhythms. This means that, even as you transition your dog’s schedule, you must be ready to offer extra comfort and attention to help alleviate any anxiety they may experience.

4) Encourage Exercise 

Engage your dog in regular exercise and playtime to help them burn off excess energy and promote relaxation. If they’re a high-energy breed, fetch sessions in the lead-up to DST should help mitigate any destructive anxious behaviors.

5) Create a Calm Environment for Them at Home

Try to keep your home quiet at night to create a calm environment for your dog. This way, they can still get good quality sleep, even if it does end up being disrupted by the incoming changes in routine.

6) Monitor Your Dog’s Bathroom Habits

Keep an eye on your dog's bathroom habits and be patient if they need extra time to adjust to the new schedule. Lay out more pee pads or offer more frequent opportunities for outdoor breaks if they need them.

7) Offer Distractions

If your dog is the intellectual type (hint: they all are), provide engaging toys to keep them occupied during periods of transition or adjustment.

8) Seek Veterinary Advice If Needed

If your dog experiences prolonged or severe anxiety, sleep disturbances, or appetite changes, it may indicate an underlying problem that was only exacerbated by DST. Consult your veterinarian to discuss potential interventions for your dog.

Ensuring a Pawsitive Transition to DST

For most dog owners, DST’s effects on dogs are largely treated as a non-issue that creates a few temporary hiccups at the most. Nonetheless, you need to be aware that DST does lead to increased stress in our canine companions, no matter how stoic they may seem. Once you know what to watch out for, you will doubtlessly notice at least a few signs of stress in your dog the next time the clock springs forward.

Of course, you could choose to do nothing and hope that everything sorts itself out. However, given the unconditional love and loyalty that your dog brings to your life, with your new knowledge, you owe it to them to reduce their discomfort as much as you can. With your support, your dog will soon adapt to the new schedule (at least, until the next change comes along).

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